Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Vegetarian Discussion

Okay, first things first, I'm not preaching at ya here. I was vegan for 15 years, and for 15 years I wanted people to understand that I'm not one "those vegans." You know, the preachy, you can't eat meat in front of 'em type. Not me. I'll even let you cook a burger on my BBQ grill, just leave half the grill for me and my grilled veggies.

Now, I'm eating fish and eggs but still no dairy or other meat. A medical diet I was on eliminated all of my vegan protein sources and so, my new diet. I'm now a Keith-an. No, I don't eat Keiths.

A regular commenter here at RockAss.net, Crowliosis suggested we have it out on the vegan discussion. Unlike a certain Mr. Sucks, Crow is fun to disagree with. He's smart and respectful and knows how to do more than sling accusations and insults.

So, here goes, in two parts, my argument for veganism.

1)Ethics

  • I will not argue that it is unethical for one animal to eat another. It's what animals due. Going extinct is also what many animals due. Our intelligence is hopefully a useful trait that can give us an advantage over less intelligent animals, meaning we can make decisions to our advantage. I'm arguing against the idea that eating meat is right because it's natural. I'll go further, we don't really like being natural all that much. Rape it can be argued is natural, as is having way too many babies.Speaking of too many babies, there are over six billion people on the planet. This makes eating meat an environmentally disastrous decision as it is a most inefficient use of resources. Rainforests are cleared for cattle grazing, and any one whose traversed California on highway 99 has seen way too many cows crowded together on too small a plot of land. Then there's the horrors of pig-shit, way too much of it and nowhere to put it.

  • Feeding so many people also means more efficient ways of raising the animals. One does not need to be opposed to the killing part of meat to be disgusted by the way they are treated prior to the killing. Factory farms would give even your staunchest meat lover a nightmare. Yes, you can get meat from smaller farms. It's not practical for feeding such a big population but if you must eat the stuff, it's the way to go.

  • So where does dairy fit in? It's just as bad or worse environmentally, and from the cruelty angle, I'd rather be a meat cow who at least has the relief of death at a comparatively young age than a milk cow.

To summarize, crowded planet means more efficient diets needed to benefit already strained environment and to avoid inhumane methods of producing great quantities of meat and dairy.

2) Nutrition.

This is where I could use more learning, and perhaps I'll get some if we get a good discussion going here.

  • What I do know is that the calcium argument doesn't hold water. Milk's not that great a source, we get plenty from Spinach and other green and especially leafy green veggies. Plus without enough magnesium a-lot of the calcium goes right through, or worse it gets deposited where it's neither needed or wanted. The western diet is thought by some to be too high in calcium and there are studies suggesting that Asian women having easier menstrual cycles and some other advantages maybe related to their much lower consumption of dairy.

  • Protein. Again, there are plenty of sources of protein other than meat. Beans, lentils, legumes, wheat, nuts, etc. And again, the American diet is crazy high in fatty proteins. Yes, I'll admit that it's crazy high in Carbs too, but it's easier to be a low carb vegan than you may think.

  • B complex vitamins. There's still a-lot debate on this one. Some argue that you can't get it without eating animals, others suggest that you can get it by eating what those animals eat, ie raw green foods. I think the more live vegetables and fruit in your diet the better.

There are cultures who've eaten vegetarian and vegan diets for centuries and others who are close. It's proven to be nutritionally sufficient to maintain health.

So that's my argument so far.

And just for fun, what would I eat first if I had too. Already answered a bit by what I am eating. This list takes ethics and nutrition into account.

  1. Fish, not farmed and caught using hooks not net and only species that are still found in abundance.
  2. Eggs, from cage free well fed chickens, cause you eat what they eat.
  3. Beef.
  4. Dairy. I think it's bad stuff for grown up animals. No other animal consumes milk except in it's infancy from it's mother, oh and raccoons but only if we hold the cows still for 'em.
  5. Pigs. Pig shit is seriously a big problem and pork, way not healthy. Sorry Jones, if you read this far.
And one last though. Ted Nugent is so not my enemy on this one. We both have a common enemy in fact, factory farming. He says you shouldn't eat if you ain't willing to kill it and I agree. Of course ALL of us hunting would be a disaster but my guess is people would eat a whole lot less beef.

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5 comments:

Simone said...

So are you not able to eay soy anymore? Is that why you need protein from fish? Ethically, how do you feel about that since obviously it's something you didn't want to do before.

Fish is something I struggle with (a little) because, for lack of a better explanation, I don't really care about them. If I do my homework, I'm reminded of why, and I care, but it doesn't strike the same chord as the mammals and birds! I still don't eat fish though, on principle.

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

Yeah, soy, wheat, rice, nuts all had to be cut way back on or eliminated. I got down to 180 pounds which is pretty gaunt for me. So, fish and eggs.

I'm still getting used to it, but it was easier to go back to it then I thought it'd be. The biggest difference between fish and other meats is that it's not farmed or at least a-lot of it isn't. Of course that's the problem too, as the oceans are being seriously overfished. So we consult our list and choose carefully.

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

I was trying to direct the commenters at myspace.com, where've been having huge comment threads over to here.
It didn't work.
Except for Simone who as a result shall now be crowned as my favorite, teacher's pet, Queen of everything.
If you'd like to comment on myspace you can do so Here.

Adellamorio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adellamorio said...

Is it okay to tell people I'm vegetarian even if I'm not? It seems to help woo a certain kind of woman, one who has fewer moral hang-ups about things like group sex and video cameras.